Dundee United’s Nicky Clark admits the match at Queen of the South feels like a must-win despite the league season being only a week old.
The Tangerines travel down to Dumfries today looking for three points for at least two reasons.
Firstly, they don’t want to fall further behind their expected Championship title rivals after losing their opener 3-2 to Dunfermline seven days ago. The Pars, Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County all won their opening fixtures.
Secondly, everyone at Tannadice knows that there is serious pressure on manager Csaba Laszlo to provide the club with at least some evidence that he has what it takes to turn the team into promotion challengers.
Striker Clark, whose opening goal against his former team ended up counting for nothing, said: “We know it wasn’t good enough and we need to take responsibility for that.
“Especially in the second half, we didn’t turn up.
“When you are 1-0 up at home at half-time you should be not just retaining that lead but adding another couple of goals.
“I can only apologise for myself and the rest of the boys for the second-half performance.
“It just wasn’t good enough but we will keep training hard and working hard and look to get the right result against Queen of the South.”
Asked if there was any room for error, he replied “No, there is not, especially having been beaten in the opening game.
“We have spoken about it as a group and we need to kick on now.
“At United, you are expected to go and get the three points every time and rightly so.
“Every game is just about a must-win for the club, especially now after the poor result last weekend.
“We watched the Dunfermline game back on video and to concede three goals at home is shocking, to be honest with you.
“The players are the ones who go over the white line on a Saturday and it’s us who need to do better.
“I can assure you that we will do.”
Life at Tannadice is intense and has been for some time, with everyone so desperate to get back into the top flight after two and a bit years away.
Clark claimed that he expected it to be so when he signed and is determined to handle what is a mental challenge as much as a physical one.
He said: “I have played at a big club before (Rangers) so I know what it is like.
“Everyone knows our target is to get this club back into the top league where it should be and we won’t get there if performances like that continue.
“We, the players, are the only ones who can turn it around.
“It is on our backs.
“You do have to play with your head and handle the pressure that is put on you.
“We have boys in our dressing room who can do that and we can still go on and achieve our targets this season.
“We have the ability but the mental side is huge too and you need to be able to cope with the pressure when it is put on you.”
Clark admitted United must go all out for victory this afternoon, with even a draw at Palmerston unlikely to ease the pressure off Laszlo.
He and his fellow players are well aware of the situation surrounding their boss.
He said: “When you get bad results the manager always gets the brunt of it.
“That’s football and it happens at every club.
“We are the boys on the park, though, and we need to perform.
“We didn’t do that against Dunfermline and let ourselves down, let the fans down and the club down.
“What is good about football is that there is always another game around the corner and we want to bounce back by going down and getting the three points against Queens.
“Being in the top league is what it’s all about and there are expectations here.
“Personally, I want to be playing in the Premiership with United and will be doing everything I can to achieve that.”